A little piece of organic history: the strange death of J. I. Rodale

"I've decided to live to be 100."

I was reading through the object of my previous post — Historical Development of Organic Agriculture — when I stumbled across an incredible fact I had never heard before.

Anyone with a modicum of interest in organic farming will recognize the name Rodale. There are two Rodales, Jerome and his son Robert. Jerome was a successful businessman who became fascinated with natural farming methods, bought a farm and founded a publishing empire, writing and selling books on the natural life-style and organic farming. So controversial were his books that the Federal Trade Commission ordered him to stop selling them, claiming the advice therein was not consistent with modern medical science. The resulting legal fight went on for 20 years, and put at risk Jerome’s entire estate. By the end of it, doctors who had testified against Rodale at the beginning of the case were denouncing their earlier testimony, because subsequent medical research had proven Rodale’s ideas to be valid.

In 1971, Jerome’s picture appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Dick Cavett needed another guest for his show that night. They invited Jerome to appear. He did, and during the taping of that show, before a live audience, Jerome I. Rodale had a heart attack, and died.

There’s a wonderful account (if I can use that word) of the event HERE. It’s very interesting…

When I’m doing an appearance somewhere and taking questions from the audience, I can always count on: “Tell about the guy who died on your show!” I generally say, “I will, and I promise you that in a few moments you will be laughing.” (That gets a laugh.) I go on: “First, who would be the logical person to drop dead on a television show? A health expert.” (Laugh.) I go on to explain that he was Jerome I. Rodale, the publisher of (among other things) Today’s Health Magazine. (Laugh.) The irony gets thicker.

Robert Rodale, Jerome’s son took up the work. The Rodale Institute is still thriving and publishing cutting edge research and information on living healthfully and growing things without chemicals. Robert died in 1990 in an automobile accident in Moscow. He was in the Soviet Union to establish a Russian-language edition of The New Farmer.



Filed under ag education, agriculture, food-health connection, natural, organic

2 responses to “A little piece of organic history: the strange death of J. I. Rodale

  1. V.E.G.

    Jerome Irving Cohen was the son of (possibly) White Russian Jews. He died of a heart attack and the interview on television remains unreleased.

  2. Jarbas pantoja

    Penso que as pessoas já estão tomando consciência a respeito da alimentação natural, estão deixando de lado os.produtos industrializados e outros nocivos a saúde.

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